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The IPL-MSM spat continues; NDTV in race for the League too

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The IPL-MSM spat continues; NDTV in race for the League too

One reason that the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) would be remembered is for all the troubles that it has had to face. The IPL braved the slowdown significantly, only to fall into a to-and-fro match with the Home Ministry over matters such as security and getting apt dates for the match to be played in different states. Amid that impasse, the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) and telecast partner Multi Screen Media’s (MSM) disagreements are now out in the open too. On March 14, 2009, the BCCI terminated its telecast rights contract MSM.

MSM wasted no time and got an injunction from the Bombay High Court restraining BCCI from talking to any other channel for telecast rights. The IPL has called this petition “invalid”. Following an inconclusive round of arguments on March 16, 2009, the hearing in the case was adjourned to March 17, 2009. In the meanwhile, sources close to the situation state that there is a good chance that MSM would lose the telecast rights of IPL. MSM did not offer any comments to exchange4media, but industry sources informed that MSM officials had been busy ensuring advertisers and media agencies that all was well.

In the meanwhile, it is understood that one key contestant that is in the running for the IPL is the NDTV Group. A senior industry source said, “At present, there is just as much chance of NDTV airing the IPL as there is of any MSM channel. However, much is dependent on which way the case swings on March 17, 2009.”

The BCCI has evidently been planned in its approach. The loophole that BCCI is “taking advantage of” is of (WSG) World Sports Group, which is the second partner of the consortium that bid and bagged the IPL telecast rights for the first 10 years. The other partner of the consortium was MSM. Following the bidding last year, MSM was given the telecast rights for the subcontinent, and WSG has the international rights for IPL. Another source said, “BCCI signed a new contract, where it has given the rights to WSG Mauritius and this opens the league to be present on any channel now.” This is one of the arguments that MSM’s legal team is challenging.

One is reminded of former MSM CEO, Kunal Dasgupta’s, words just a few days before exiting the company, that there was a chance that the BCCI would terminate the IPL telecast rights deal with MSM. While MSM’s interim CEO Man Jit Singh had said that this was untrue and that the two partners had resolved their differences, it does appear that MSM missed something at some point for the matter to be in court now.

With over Rs 17,000 crore at stake, most industry observers are keenly watching which way the IPL would turn. Many had said that given the political pressures, IPL might not air at all this year, and even if it did, where would it air was another question. If the script couldn’t have been better for the first season of the IPL, the second season has been nothing short of a googly, and that too even before the first ball has been bowled.

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